Editor’s note: This article originally ran on xoJane, our sister SAY Media publication site, but we’re rerunning it here with permission so Dogster readers can weigh in. WARNING – this post contains photos of the author’s bites and is not for the faint of heart.
Author’s note: I’m a dog lover through and through, and the last thing I want is reinforce a stereotype about a bully breed. Rottweilers are not all vicious animals, no more than any other breed, but they are incredibly powerful. To own a powerful breed without taking responsibility for the animal(s) is dangerous. This is a prime example.
It was a gorgeous Sunday in November and I had just taken my dog, Sherman, for a jog. (Yeah, she’s got a dude name. She doesn’t mind.) I was feeling good and tired and I was listening to some tunes as we walked home.
We were about two blocks from the house when it happened. One second it was a nice morning. The next second three Rottweilers were snarling and chomping on my dog like they were starving and she was filet mignon. My dog tried to fight back and to twist out of their jaws, but she weighs 35 pounds. She was screwed.
When something like this happens, a big adrenaline bomb goes off. For me, it meant everything went tunnel vision. There was no clever strategy. I had no options, so I did the one thing I could and reached down and picked Sherman up. I lifted her above my shoulders and held her as high as possible.
That’s when I got the brunt of the attack.
One dog was especially ferocious in his attempts to get my dog. Chomp! He bit my left arm. I remember bite after bite as he tried to get me to let go of Sherman. He jumped up, trying to get higher. One of his teeth punched right into the flesh of my upper bicep. Meanwhile the other two dogs jumped on me, trying to reach Sherman. All of this lasted maybe 30 seconds or a minute, but it felt like an hour.
I had exactly three thoughts while three huge dogs pummeled me.
1. This doesn’t hurt as much as I would have imagined a dog attack would hurt.
2. If I just keep walking, I’ll eventually get home and we’ll be safe.
3. It’s really hard to hold onto a dog who’s thrashing around, trying to simultaneously get away and fight back.
The inevitable happened. Sherman slipped out of my hands. Immediately, the dogs were on her. One bit her neck and another grabbed her leg. I shoved one. I kicked another. I might as well have kicked a wall. I yelled. I thought, “I am about to see my dog get killed. Any second now, there’s going to be blood and guts and she’ll be dead.” It was me against three Rottweilers and I was absolutely helpless to stop them.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, five or six guys ran up.
“Help me, please help me,” I begged.
They waved and yelled at the dogs, who scattered because now they were the ones who were outnumbered.
Sherman stood up. She seemed more or less okay, so we stumbled home. The adrenaline rush was already taking its toll. My hand was shaking as I opened the door. I locked it and collapsed to the floor. My legs were mush.
That’s when I noticed my left hand was bleeding pretty bad. I had a puncture right in the webbing between my thumb and index finger and another, deeper and bigger, on the back of my hand. Blood trickled all down my arm, and my shirt was shredded.
Taking deep breaths to keep myself under control, I called the police to report the attack. The dispatcher said an officer was on his way. I hung up and gave my parents the worst call they had all year. Mom answered the phone, happy to hear from me, but I just lost it.
“Me and Sherman just got attacked by dogs,” I said.
It came out in chunks, interrupted by sobs.
The police officer who took my report asked me if I wanted to press charges. Oh, yes, I wanted to press charges. That done, I had to get Sherman to the emergency vet. He unlocked the door and I brought Sherman in and lifted her to the table.
“You are really lucky,” he said. “When dogs attack like that, one will grab one end of the dog and one will grab the other and they’ll just pull it apart. And I mean pull the little dog to pieces.”
Thanks, Mr. Vet, that’s exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.
Mr. Vet examined her. Sherman had a torn patch of skin on her chest about the size of half a dollar bill. Remarkably, that seemed to be her only major injury. She was going to need stitches and a rabies booster, but she should be fine.
“Frankly,” Mr. Vet said, looking at me and my bloody arm across the table, “I’m more worried about you.”
He injected her with anesthetic and told me he’d take good care of her.
Mom and dad met me at the vet’s parking lot and I gratefully let them take over. They cleaned me up and called the police officer back to talk to him. By then, I had time to take stock of my injuries. Not many of the bites broke skin, but one dog had bitten me all up and down my arm, paying special attention to my elbow. My whole arm swelled up red and painful and was soon covered in violently colored bruises. I had a whole network of scratches along my sides, my back, and even my neck.
That night, I lay in bed trying to fall asleep. In the blur of the attack, my brain was focused on what was immediate. Now, I had time to realize that it all could have gone so much worse. The dogs could have attacked me directly. The bystanders might not have intervened in time. Those dogs could have mutilated or even killed me. These things don’t happen. Not in real life. And yet, as my arm throbbed in the dark, I had compelling evidence to the contrary.
Over the next few weeks, Sherman and I swallowed loads of antibiotics and slowly healed. A week or so after the attack, someone accidentally squeezed my left hand. Agony shot through me and I almost burst into tears in front of 50 people at work.
I went to court, bracing for a fight. The dogs’ owner pleaded not guilty to the charges. When asked to present his side of the story, the guy stood up and blamed me for getting hurt, told the judge he couldn’t be held responsible for controlling his dogs, and stated, “Of course they attacked, it’s what dogs do.” What a charmer.
The judge found him guilty on three counts of owning vicious animals and three counts of failing to control them and ordered him to pay roughly $1,000 in fines and approximately $300 in restitution to me for vet and medical bills. The guy was very unhappy about this and maintained the attitude that it had been my fault that his dogs jumped their fence and attacked.
It’s been about nine months since the attack. I have a couple of small scars that blend in with the moles on my arm. The nerve damage in my left hand is practically gone. I have received zero dollars of the court-ordered restitution payment. There is nothing I can do about it.
I live in a different place now and I’m slowly taking my dog for walks again. I’m still afraid to take her out alone. When we go hiking with my boyfriend, every off-leash dog we pass makes me tense up. I brace for another attack. I have my boyfriend wait. I ask the other people to please hold onto their dog. The owners of those dogs sometimes look at me like, “What’s your problem?” Maybe next time I get the stinkeye, I’ll just show them my scars.
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